Could the USSR have taken all of Europe?

By early 1943, the tide had changed in ETO. Stalin’s Red Army persistently pushed the Wehrmacht back towards Germany, along the way it gobbled up countries that would later go on to form the " Iron Curtain." But as historian Anthony Beevor has noted, Stalin —for a brief time — seriously considered taking all of Europe for himself. After the fall of Berlin, the Red Army consisted of 12 million men in 300 divisions, while the Allies had 4 million troops in 85 divisions. Additionally the Americans were still many months away from developing the A-bomb. There certainly was enough time for Stalin to push the Allies to the Atlantic Ocean, so why didn’t he?


Probably because Stalin got what he wanted in (a) Eastern Europe, e.g. Poland, as a buffer between any resurgence in Germany and any future Allied hostility from Western Europe and (b) recovery and or extension of former Russian territory in the west, as agreed at Yalta:

The leaders of the three great powers - the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain - have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that:

  1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People’s Republic) shall be preserved.
  2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.:
    (a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union;
    (b) The commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored;
    (c) The Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad, which provide an outlet to Dairen, shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese company, it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain sovereignty in Manchuria;
  3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.
    It is understood that the agreement concerning Outer Mongolia and the ports and railroads referred to above will require concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The President will take measures in order to maintain this concurrence on advice from Marshal Stalin.

The heads of the three great powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.

For its part, the Soviet Union expresses it readiness to conclude with the National Government of China a pact of friendship and alliance between the U.S.S.R. and China in order to render assistance to China with its armed forces for the purpose of liberating China from the Japanese yoke.
The Avalon Project : Yalta (Crimea) Conference

On the Allied side, towards the end of the war Churchill sought advice from his military commanders about the prospect of attacking the Soviets after defeating Germany.

Just goes to show that all nations are run by untrustworthy arseholes, for whom millions have died in pursuit of the ambitions of untrustworthy arseholes.

Logistics. In 1943? no way! I think you vastly overestimate the challenge of simply marching to the English Channel when simply pushing West would have been more and more difficult than the 1944-45 staged offensives into Germany. The Wehrmacht had been shattered by the pincer on two fronts, despite this, the Heer and SS that were often a shadow of their former selves still managed to regroup and hold back the line. I suspect that well supplied troops may have posed a greater risk. The Soviets were already being bogged down and their advances were stalled after Bagration, much as the Western Allies did after Cobra when they were after storming through France. After the extensive damage inflicted on Russia and its other republics, the Soviet peoples’morale might have buckled with another conflict with their former allies that were feeding them and whose trucks provided their logistical mobility making rapid westward advances even possible. Plus, Stalin would risk a crusade against him with the possibility of a German-Allied coalition and the Wehrmacht being rearmed along with formerly conquered Euro states raising their own forces under Allied direction. And the little thing called Strategic Bombing - even without the A-bomb, would have given the Soviets pause as the potential of Soviets cities being smashed en-mass to a vastly far greater extent the Germans were ever capable of certainly caused some consternation. The state of the Soviet hierarchy, that I am generally ignorant of at the time, might also have needed consolidation as I suspect Stalin might have feared being deposed if things went badly or even if it went well. Who knows how his advisers and generals might have reacted to such orders…

I also would not discount the Pacific and the Far East as the Allies had absolute naval supremacy, and even during the Cold War, the Soviets feared a vast open theater in which the Allies could launch amphibious spoiling attacks and tie down vast numbers of Red forces. Also, don’t discount the fact that Stalin knew the Americans were working on the Bomb…

Besides, everyone knows that Stalin was just a peace-loving, slayer of fascists who only wanted peace… :slight_smile:

It would require a lot of information and analysis that are both well beyond me, but I’d expect that any Soviet thrust to the West against the Western Allies would have lengthened Soviet lines of communication dangerously and, despite the USSR’s huge productive capacity in the final years of the war, would have been made worse by the withdrawal of all materiel and armed support from the Western Allies.

Against that, the fairly rapid transfer of huge Soviet land and air forces to the Japanese front between May and August 1945 suggests that the Soviets still had a major assault and logistical power after the end of the war in the ETO, although significant Soviet forces had been stationed on the Manchurian front for the duration of and after the end of the European war.

I suspect that this Western Allies / Axis alliance would have occurred very quickly in response to any Soviet attempt to push out the Western Allies. Witness the speed with which the Western Allies, notably the US, exploited and bolstered Gehlen in Germany and did an about face in Japan when in both cases the Western Allies used their former Axis enemies against the perceived threat of Soviet, and later Chinese, communism.

It would have been less remarkable for the Western Allies to ally themselves with former Axis powers in the ETO than it was that the Western Allies actually allied themselves with the Soviets against a common enemy 1941-45 when previously the Soviets were, as the source of exported challenges to and attempts to undermine capitalist democracies, quite reasonably seen in the West as a major threat to the capitalist democracies which included all of the Western Allies.

The Western Allies had more in common with capitalist fascists than communists and would readily have aligned themselves with fascists to defeat a communist advance to the English Channel. Similarly, the civilians in Western Europe were generally much more likely to be fearful of Soviet domination than the liberty brought them by the Western Allies from mid-1944.

There are many possiilities :slight_smile:

Russian suffered the most.

btw Russian suffered the most.